Syndication: The Providence Journal

Hey, it did happen.

The firing of Steve Wilks isn’t anything other than the principles Kyle Shanahan has had since he took over the 49ers. Obviously, the regressing defense and head-scratching play calls were the things that doomed him, but one thing not talked about is what the coaching pool is for defensive coordinators.

In 2019, Shanahan said he’d remove coaches if he felt the 49ers could do better elsewhere. He also used Bill Belichick in the same sentence:

“No, I don’t see myself making any specific changes. I like our staff a lot. I think we’ve got some good coaches. I think there’s areas we can all get better in. I have an obligation to this organization that, just like I say with any player, when you guys ask me, ‘Hey, is this guy tradeable or anything like that?’ I’ll never say no one’s for sure not. I mean, if [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick became available two weeks from now and said he wants to come here, and I was told I had to let someone go to bring him in, that would probably be a smart decision to do that. I’m not going to ever say that everyone is just totally safe forever.”

That came from Shanahan’s post-season press conference following the 2018 season. Back then the fans wanted Robert Saleh gone due to so many communication issues on defense. Shanahan made it clear he was holding onto Saleh.

The statement sounds more like coach speak than anything else. Every coach will tell you they want the team to get better at any cost. Except Shanahan wasn’t kidding.

Shortly after this statement, the 49ers decided not to retain defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina and hired Kris Kocurek shortly thereafter. That seemed to work out for everyone.

I don’t need to highlight why Steve Wilks was fired since we’ve gone on about this for the last week and if you watch the games, you know he wasn’t a scapegoat. Wilks just wasn’t a good fit. Good guy, decent coach, didn’t work in San Francisco. Good on Kyle Shanahan for owning his mistake and moving on.

Among all the legitimate reasons to go in a different direction, we haven’t talked enough about Shanahan seeing a large pool of better defensive coordinators. Last year it was Wilks and Vic Fangio you heard about. This year you have Mike Vrabel, Ron Rivera, Bill Belichick, etc. That pool definitely has something to do with it.

And how funny would it be if the above sequence of events took place?

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